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Seven Deadly Shadows

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Kira Fujikawa has always been a girl on the fringe. Bullied by her peers and ignored by her parents, the only place Kira’s ever felt at home is at her grandfather’s Shinto shrine, where she trains to be a priestess.

But Kira’s life is shattered on the night her family’s shrine is attacked by a vicious band of yokai demons. With the help of Shiro—the shrine’s gorgeous half-fox, half-boy kitsune—Kira discovers that her shrine harbors an ancient artifact of great power . . . one the yokai and their demon lord, Shuten-doji, will use to bring down an everlasting darkness upon the world.

Unable to face the Shuten-doji and his minions on her own, Kira enlists the aid of seven ruthless shinigami—or death gods—to help stop the brutal destruction of humankind. But some of the death gods aren’t everything they initially seemed, nor as loyal to Kira’s cause as they first appeared.

With war drawing nearer by the day, Kira realizes that if this unlikely band of heroes is going to survive, they’re going to have to learn to work together, confront their demons, and rise as one to face an army of unimaginable evil.

288 pages, Hardcover

First published January 28, 2020

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About the author

Courtney Alameda

13 books589 followers
A veteran bookseller and librarian, Courtney Alameda now spends her days writing thriller and horror novels for young people. Her debut novel, SHUTTER, was nominated for a Bram Stoker award and hailed as a "standout in the genre" by School Library Journal. Her forthcoming novel, PITCH DARK (Spring 2017), is a genre-blending science fiction/horror novel in the vein of Ridley Scott's 1979 film ALIEN.

Courtney holds a B.A. in English literature with an emphasis in creative writing. She is represented by the talented John M. Cusick of Folio Literary. A Northern California native, she now resides in Utah with her husband, a legion of books, and a tiny five pound cat with a giant personality.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 495 reviews
Profile Image for jessica.
2,509 reviews31k followers
February 3, 2020
i wouldnt really consider myself a massive anime or manga fan, but i enjoyed this story. its impossible to not see how deeply inspired this is by the two media forms and i think thats what makes this so fun.

if this book has anything going for it, its the creativity of the plot and the representation of japanese culture. this is incredibly well-researched. its full of information about japanese folklore and has definitely piqued my interest in the subject.

but i cant help but feel the authors struggled to seamlessly incorporate that information into the narrative. sometimes it feels as if parts of a wikipedia page are just copied and pasted into the narrative. the introductions and explanations are very awkward and do not feel natural to the story. i also had some slight issues with the inconstancies in dialogue, the predictability of the plot, and the cliched character development. these writing hiccups definitely leave room for improvement/development in their style, should the authors choose to write another story together; so i see that as a positive thing, because it can only get better from here.

if they do decide to write another book together, i really hope they stick to stories inspired by japanese culture, because i think it works for them!

3.5 stars
Profile Image for Tara ☽.
303 reviews243 followers
Want to read
July 19, 2018
Umm so the synopsis basically pitches this as an anime in YA book form so you know I'm already a slut for this book
Profile Image for Tim.
471 reviews595 followers
February 4, 2020
Imagine if you will, that someone took the plot of Seven Samurai, set it in modern day Japan, replaced the bandits with Yokai, put in a ton of anime tropes and replaced the villagers with one lone Japanese school girl/shrine maiden who has to find seven death gods to defend her temple. Oh, also Toshiro Mifune’s character is a girl who is a combination of classic samurai, with a slight punk rock aesthetic.

Okay, okay, she's not quite the same character, but she's obviously channeling him through her actions, and yes, that actually is as badass as it sounds.

And yes, I’m as shocked as you are that someone managed to pull this off. The two authors of this book are to be commended. When I first heard the description, it made me smile but I didn’t honestly think that it would be a success; more the sort of book I’d read once, feel like I got some amusement out of it and then proceed on. I did not expect it to be a genuinely clever take on all of the above topics. The anime tropes are used successfully throughout, making for some comic relief as you read on. The classic samurai aspects also succeed, as while Kira’s story is one of hope (much like the villagers in Seven Samurai), the Shinigami’s are all tales of regret. Particularly noteworthy is Shimada (who plays essential the same role as Takashi Shimura did in Seven Samurai) who comes across as the same lonely figure, helping in a cause that he figures is not realistically winnable, but still feeling it is the only option left to him.

I do have a few minor complaints. The ending seemed a tad rushed. A few characters were not used to their full potential and one or two had some jarring character development a little too quickly Flaws aside, the good by far outweighs the bad.

This is one of those books that I just sped through and now that it is over, I’m torn. I liked the world created here. I liked the characters that I met and the journey they take. I liked how it managed to capture both the feel of old samurai films and modern anime… but I don’t know if I want a follow up novel. If the authors chose to continue, I hope they come up with another clever take on both styles (perhaps a using the plot of Yojimbo?), but once you pulled off a Seven Samurai story… well, it’s a hard one to follow up. 4/5 stars
Profile Image for destiny ♡ howling libraries.
1,625 reviews5,070 followers
Want to read
May 21, 2020
DNF @ 70%

I've been reading this since January — almost five full months — and I'm still not motivated to finish it. I really loved the world-building and the atmospheric settings and all of the Shinto lore woven in, and I'll probably come back to this eventually, but I'm setting it down for now because for some reason I just can't seem to attach to the characters. :(
Profile Image for Dani ❤️ Perspective of a Writer.
1,512 reviews5 followers
February 5, 2020
Seven Deadly Shadows, A Game of Shinigami, Demons and a Shrine Maiden

I love stories with shinigami, yokai and kitsune. So when I read the premise of Seven Deadly Shadows I was super excited to see many of my favorite Japanese things. I became even more excited to learn this is set in Japan!

Did Seven Deadly Shadows live up to the mega expectations of this Japanese Fangirl?

“Grandfather taught me Shinto, not folklore,” I say, balling my hands in my lap. It’s hard to keep my tone even, especially in the face of Father’s dispassion for the family shrine. He will never understand what the shrine means to me, even if he is family; Father doesn’t want to understand.”

From the beginning I was taken with Kira. She’s not on the best of term with her parents, but adores her little sister and her grandfather. At school she has it rough, being new and not like the other girls. Most kids who don’t fit in get targeted by those with power. And while she’s learning to be a shrine maiden at her grandpa’s knee he hasn’t taught her the juicy stuff yet. And then we have the fact she can see yokai, or demons, that most humans are ignorant exist. In other words she’s your typical Japanese teenager. I really appreciated that Kira was coming from a realistic point in her life. She wasn’t some mentally 30 year old in a hot 17 year old body.

If you’re fascinated by death, you’ll want to meet the shinigami.

“A figure in a slate-gray kimono and black hakama pants stands beside the dying man, the edges of his red haori flitting in the wind. Snowflakes gather on his conical sugegasa hat and broad shoulders. A host of onyx-winged butterflies surrounds him, clinging to bloodied glass and bent metal, their wings so dark they seem to absorb all visible light. Each butterfly must be the size of my palm, if not larger.”

Because of the anime and manga series Deathnote many people know what a shinigami is (a death spirit who ushers humans toward death). In Seven Deadly Shadows we meet seven different incarnations and through their back history get a comprehensive view of what it means to become a shinigami. It was fascinating as the authors use folklore, history and their imagination to flesh out these specters of death.

Plus we have nekomata, kitsune and magical artifacts. (Oh my folklore!)

“The great cat pivots, snarling, blood dripping from his chin. He coils, muscles compressing like powerful springs, and pounces. His front claws gleam like razors. Oni-chan hooks them into the oni, then drags it screaming to the ground. I turn my face away. Bones crunch. Tendons pop.”

Shiro, the love interest, is a half fox who is tasked to guard the shrine with his brother. He becomes Kira’s kitsune shadow and confidante as she works to gain the skills she needs to save the shrine and avenge her grandfather. His back history is quite different and I appreciated the authors trying to make him stand out. Oni-chan, our demon cat, is the one who stole my heart! Nekomata are dangerous warrior cats with big appetites. He seems to take a liking to this shrine maiden … as long as she and Shiro feed him. I was also really impressed by the different artifacts that are used for Kira’s cause. You can’t have supernatural battles without the proper weapons and protections.

As a bonus you get an immersive tour of old Japan.

“We order several ekiben—bento box meals made specifically for train riders. I choose an ekiben containing artfully arranged rice, sautéed salmon, a tamagoyaki omelette, and vegetables. Pink and white tofu flowers accent the meal, making it almost too pretty to eat. Almost. Each part of the meal enjoys its own little compartment, beautiful, organized, structured. I wish my life made as much sense.”

Kira gives us a real sense of her family’s shrine the day her grandfather is attacked. You could really envision the yokai attacking and this continues all through Seven Deadly Shadows. When we went to Tokyo I got a sense of the seedy yokai bar they visited as well as see what it’s like to run into rogue shinigami in the park. And even our visit to the supernatural realm was invested with the ancient atmosphere you’d expect in a yokai realm. It’s neat when events come to life within the setting of a story.

Seven Deadly Shadows gives us the anime experience with its pros and cons.

The amount of research that goes into a book can totally change a readers experience. And Seven Deadly Shadows proves the point. It’s clear from the depth of the world building and the specificity of the details that the facts were well researched by the authors.

A story is also influenced by an author’s ability to craft a compelling narrative and plot. We must come to care about the protagonist for events to sufficiently move us. And if those events are plotted taking an obvious route the reader doesn’t have sufficient opposition for the stakes to be high enough.

Seven Deadly Shadows suffered from some of these storytelling problems. (Specific plot spoilers in bullet points below.)

-The only step Kira takes to find her seven shinigami is to aimlessly wander the streets and ask random death spirits to join her. This wouldn’t work in the real world where there aren’t authors to supply other means for her to obtain the allies she needs. She needed to make an effort like this was really important to her.

-Enemies conveniently become allies without any intervention from Kira. It’s quite dissatisfying when the protagonist is passive in her own quest. And this doesn’t happen once but twice! With a third in similar circumstances if not exactly an enemy. Mix it up, otherwise it gets boring.

-A shard hidden since ancient times is easily and conveniently located by a teenage girl. While certain, specific events came together for that to happen it’s too much contrivance when paired with the other events. Kira needed to be a major influence in her own story. At least she had a moment after finding it where she had to take a small action herself.

There were more smaller moments but you get the picture. At times the plot was quite shallow, much like an anime. There wasn’t much transition from problem to solution and as a result events felt contrived. There is much to love in Seven Deadly Shadows but for good or bad it reads like a fun, Japanese folklore based anime.

Seven Deadly Shadows plunges us into the dangerous world of yokai, shinigami and shrine maidens. We follow a teenage girl who has been thrust into her duties due to the murder of her grandfather. She’s forced to balance her mundane life with her chosen one as rescuer of her family’s shrine. You’ll get everything you need to immerse yourself in this dark, supernatural Japan.
Profile Image for Kal ★ Reader Voracious.
547 reviews187 followers
January 31, 2020
You can read an excerpt of the book on Epic Reads now, and you definitely should!
"I am a girl surrounded by monsters and ghosts from an ancient world. Most days, they scare me less than people do."
I'm a big fan of Courtney Alameda's writing, so I jumped at the chance to read and review an ARC of this retelling of Akira Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai despite not being familiar with the source material. This book cured my slump and I devoured it in two sittings. This is a fun and immersive read that I recommend with my whole heart.

The characters? Love them.
The magic system? Pretty badass.
The tension? Palpable.
The pacing? Lightning fast.
"Something screeches in the darkness. The sound drags itself across my skin, sharp enough to leave welts."
This is a retelling that is very accessible to someone who isn't familiar with the source material (aka me). Fast-paced and engaging, the worldbuilding  is richly and respectfully crafted. Shinto is a living faith and I appreciate that the authors took care to not depict rituals on page, as well as made a point to say that referring to Shinto or deities as "mythological" is inappropriate. I'm not an own-voices reader, but I could feel the care that the authors took to depict Shinto respectfully (which was reiterated in the author's notes).

I think I should read more urban fantasy because I'm a sucker for stories with a hidden reality just beyond our knowledge that only a few Chosen can see. Every book in the genre that I pick up, I love. This book included!
"Perhaps it is better not to be the hero. You must remember one thing about the heroes from the old stories - not all of them survive."
I was so invested in this book because of the captivating plot, but also because I loved the characters. Our main character is Kira Fujikawa and her family has tended to the Fujikawa Shrine for nearly one thousand years. She is the only one in her immediate family who has the ability to see the otherworldly beings called yokai demons around; it seems the gift skipped from her grandfather directly to her. This has her at odds with her parents and family tradition, the latter of which she is intensely proud to be a part of.
"In manga the hero responsible for saving the world generally gets a free pass on real life . . . but I don't like in a manga world. The real world keeps moving forward, despite the danger it's in."
My favorite aspect of Seven Deadly Shadows is that Kira has to prepare for a supernatural war alongside all of her other responsibilities. Much like Buffy had to juggle high school with Slaying, Kira has to learn the skills necessary to battle against great evil, recruit allies, go to school, and find time to sleep. And she is tired. Kira doesn't seem superhuman and become instantly good at battle, and she doesn't become a master after one mere month of training either. She's just a regular girl - Chosen insofar as having the ability to see the Yokai - rising to an insurmountable challenge and doing her best.

The band of champions that Kira recruits to fight alongside her gave me so many feels. I love groups of unlikely heroes. The more reluctant the "hero," the more I love them and their sarcasm. Every character felt fully-fledged and real to me, each with varying and conflicting objectives that lead to complicated and tenuous relationships.
"Something screeches in the darkness. The sound drags itself across my skin, sharp enough to leave welts."
The writing is effortless and engaging. While I wouldn't remotely categorize this book with horror crossover, the atmosphere and horrific descriptions that I've come to associate with Alameda's books is spine-tingling and present. I was able to guess most of the main plot points but it didn't detract from my enjoyment because the story doesn't hinge on those developments as twists.
"Fear doesn't grip me immediately - it creeps into my soul like ice overtaking a pond, starting from the outside and working its way into the deepest, darkest parts of me."
Overall, I absolutely adored Seven Deadly Shadows and devoured the book in two sittings. The rich worldbuilding draws you in slowly, building around you while you're focused on everything else. I definitely recommend this to fans of anime, as well as anyone who enjoys urban fantasy.

Content warnings: bullying, death, depictions of grief, loss of a loved one

eARC provided by the publisher, HarperCollins, and FFBC in exchange for my honest review as par of the blog tour. This does not affect the content of my review. Quotations are from an uncorrected proof and subject to change upon final publication.
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Profile Image for lobelyys.
329 reviews57 followers
September 4, 2020
Perhaps it is better not to be a hero. You must remember one thing about the heroes from the old stories—not all of them survive.

Child,,, no.

The main character was really annoying, emo as if she was still in 2009. The "i'm not like other girls who like idols and put on make up, i see monsters and i live in a shrine!". Shut up.

"Monsters are more human than humans", girl we just saw your shitty parents and two bullies from your school, no other humans, and the whole book is about saving the world from monsters! Stop trying to be edgy and stand up on your crush for the fox boy.

Even the story was kinda meh, not interesting at all. It ended weirdly, like, the power of hope saved their asses or something. It was also to fast, like it wanted to be a short book but also put a shitload of information in it, taking out actual interesting facts that were happening. The characters had also zero personality, no flavour or anything. And the random japanese words just speckled around where just cringy and weird, as if anime or mangas fans wanted to create their own book based on the words they knew. No.

This was also my most anticipated book of the year, i was so hyped up. Damn.
Profile Image for Jessica.
Author 29 books5,609 followers
April 12, 2020
Immerses you in the culture and life of modern day Japan, while introducing you to the rich tapestry of demons, legends, magic and religion- or at least a small portion of it all! Suspenseful, with a hint of humor and more than a hint of romance, it made me want to eat all the food and touch all the clothes. I'm almost angry at the description of the magic wardrobe that produces any clothes you can imagine . . . I would kill for this wardrobe! But alas!

I struggled with Kira's family- they're all assholes! But I understand that, well, culturally they look at family roles very differently from the way I do. I loved her grandparents, however. And I really loved the notes and glossary at the end.
Profile Image for Claire.
798 reviews91 followers
February 3, 2020
I'm not feeling this one, unfortunately.
I don't know if I'm getting too old for some YA books.
I've been in a book slump lately so we'll see if I'll ever be able to come back to this.
Profile Image for Brithanie Faith.
259 reviews164 followers
January 18, 2020
4.25/5 stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐.25

ARC provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

The best thing about reading a book that features unfamiliar mythology is getting to do an internet deep-dive to learn all you'd like to know about said mythology. I love books that encourage me to learn, and Seven Deadly Shadows did just that.

I had an incredible time reading this! It might not have been perfect, but it was a lot of fun! There were many fascinating characters to learn about- and plenty of adventure to enjoy.

I think this author duo worked really well together- and I would love to read more from them in the future should they decide to write another book together.
Profile Image for Shannon.
301 reviews30 followers
January 27, 2020
Engaging, exciting YA Fantasy with genuine cultural authenticity!

Hey there fellow Book Dragons!

I am so excited to share this review with all of you because it's been a while since I've come across a book, I found to be this unique in such a very large market.

Imagine your favourite manga for me. Now, blend it with extremely well-written, well researched urban fantasy and beautiful Japanese traditions and mythology. Sounds like a lot right? I promise you, this book has it all and then some.

The pacing of Seven Deadly Shadows is a little slower than your average YA book, the build-up more purposeful, but I found it also to be more realistic in the sense that our heroine is not instantly brave, nor does she possess the skills to take down the bad guys right from the first confrontation. She learns and trains, which to me, made her journey from school girl to bad ass demon slayer, so much more authentic. Tricky for fantasy but it works very well. 

The Japanese culture is already one that I find fascinating. From the country's rich history and traditional values, to it's mythological gods and modern sensibilities. Naturally, a book that seamlessly blends all of these things was a no-brainer for me, and I loved it!

The characters are colourful and entertaining and the plot is exciting! I honestly couldn't put it down! Even though the the story is more of an epic journey than a race, the explosive ending is action-packed, bloody, and fun! I adored Kira, and Shiro is just adorable! He's also pretty bad ass himself. Seriously, every character has something special to offer.

Seven Deadly Shadows is a riveting, one-of-a-kind story and I'm thrilled tomorrow is release day because I can't wait for people to read this book so I can start blabbing about it without risk of spoilers!

Hurry up and get a copy already! You won't regret it!

Rating... A+


Big thanks to Harper Collins Canda for providing this ARC in exchange for my honest review.
Profile Image for Alexa.
2,116 reviews11.1k followers
February 7, 2020
This review was originally posted on Alexa Loves Books.

If you know me at all, you’ll know I love anime and I’m always up for reading YA stories that boast premises like anime stories I’ve loved. I was very excited about Seven Deadly Shadows, and luckily, this stand-alone YA fantasy read was so dang fun! Our heroine is Kira Fujikawa, who happens to be a shrine priestess at the shrine that has been in her family for generations and she happens to have the ability to see yokai (ghosts and demons). She is faced with the task of learning new skills (both as a warrior and a priestess), as well as gathering seven shinigami (death gods) in order to prepare for a confrontation with Shuten-doji, a demon king who plans to rise during the next blood moon and use the power of an ancient relic to bring about the end of the world. This is a pretty neat set-up for an enjoyable book! It really called to mind a lot of the anime and manga that I’ve personally loved in the past (and you’ll find that the authors mention a couple of them at the end in their author’s note!), so it was all too easy for me to get sucked into and invested in the story. It was well-paced, it featured plenty of Japanese lore and I honestly felt like I flew through the book! It’s not perfect, admittedly, and I could have used a little more fleshing out of the world and these characters (and their relationships). But it was really entertaining, and for that (and the fact that I’m generally into most things that remind me of my favorite animes), I’d say it was worth the read.

** I read this one with Rachel for Friends with ARCs.

Blog | Instagram | YouTube | Twitter
June 21, 2020
Disclaimer: I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Thank you to Fantastic Flying Book Club, Edelweiss, and HarperCollins for this free copy. All quotes in this review are taken from the Advanced Reader Copy and may change in final publication.

So everyone keeps mentioning how this book reminded them of an anime or a manga, and I have to say I totally agree. I was also going to pick a more action packed gif of a kitsune from an anime, but I feel like it could have triggered an epileptic reaction so I changed it, but you should totally look it up if you’re interested. I will say that I was a little hesitant at first about this one, despite absolutely loving the synopsis and seeing that Maetani was one of the authors. Honestly, my doubts or fears about this novel were washed away as I was reading this, and wow I can’t get over this one.

I freaking loved the story that Kira had to go through in this story, and I know that the whole “finding out your family has some secret that you never knew about which ends up coming to bite you in the ass when you least expect it” trope can seem played out, but it’s a good trope that works. Don’t knock something that’s so good at pulling a reader in to the story. And in this case, I feel like Alameda and Maetani did an amazing job of pulling me in from the get to.

Like immediately.

I feel like one of the reasons why I had a little bit of doubts in the beginning was because I wasn’t sure how Alameda and Maetani were going to do this, and I was just hoping that the Japanese mythology and culture in this novel would be done right, and done properly. So I was so thankful to read this and see some familiar stories that I remember hearing growing up, and seeing that it was done in a way where I could be proud of this story growing up. And I’m just so freaking glad that I was able to read this novel. I know I said this over and over and over, but I just really fell in love with this novel.

Profile Image for thi.
616 reviews83 followers
January 29, 2020
- lowkey I’ll give any ya fantasy standalone a good review (haha jk .. unless?)
- no but really, they way my patience for drawn out series is depleting
- I loved, loved, loved alameda’s shutter (still do, highly recommend) so I was so excited to see her come back for another paranormal/supernatural ride and with a ton Japanese mythology (love the authors note detailing their efforts and research)
- And it was great!!!
- I’m a huge anime fan and because this was so dynamic and action packed with so many highs and it was really easily imaginable
- My only con would be the lack of development concerning character relationships
Profile Image for rose.
19 reviews
February 8, 2020
dnf (pg. 145 of 376)
Honestly, I wasn't going to review review this but hey, it's time for more chaotic complaints (proper formatting is for losers, amirite ladiez?). Okay:

1) "'You know how I’m always telling you to relax?' You say it so often, it’s almost a catchphrase"(64). Shiro has never told Kira (our mc) to relax before this?? (side note: if your gonna name your kitsune Shiro, at least give him white hair- I'm looking at you Annette Marie, my queen.)
2) In a letter left to Kira, Shiro leaves a note referring to a cabinet that magically has the clothes you desire inside. The note says, "Don’t ask me how it works—you won’t like the answer" (87). Which I know is like,, technically fine because Shiro as a character does not have to know how everything works in this world, HOWEVER it really highlights how poorly literally any semblance of a magic system has been developed/explained.
2.5) On that note- Kira can just see (???) yokai and other magical beings because of what? her family? Okay, sure, fine- I'll accept that. The fact that she has a poor relationship with the rest of her family due to this and other religious reasons: okay sure. The fact that they never develop or talk about this relationship at all even when given multiple moments to: no. Not okay. (And I know I dropped this book very early on, however trust me when I say that there are many moments to expand upon this family dynamic that were looked over for the excuse of "plot." It felt very "I'm not going to kill of the parents because that's cliché but I'm also not going to put any effort into them."
3) "As we walk in, a girl group dances to a Twice K-pop song" (92). Okay, so this isn't that bad, but it immediately dates the book. Seven Deadly Shadows has a lot of fun references to anime/K-pop things, so I get that it's trying to appeal to its audience, but the references seem mostly thrown in simply for recognitions sake. They're juvenile and don't do anything for the plot or even the novel's local color really.
4) "'Kira, Kira, always with her head in a book," Shiro says [...] “I don’t have a choice. If my grades drop, I’ll lose my place at Kōgakkon'" (118). She has not read a single (1) time throughout the novel; this sentence is just a downright lie. Also, the fact that the book opens with Kira being bullied at school makes it seem like school might be mentioned more than just twice? That whole plot point just feels out of place. I get that the bullying is supposed to make us have sympathy for her, however I would have more sympathy for her if she had an ounce of character.
5) Kira and Shiro as characters and as a possible romantic relationship just really fell flat for me. There wasn't much development between the two and I never really cared what happened to them. I think that this may have been solved if there was more attention payed to actions' and plot points' emotional consequences, but ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Alright- that's it for the chaos, but these are my complaints. See you in like 3 months or smth, peace out girl scouts
Profile Image for Aly.
2,528 reviews
January 8, 2021
I really like books about Japanese mythology, there are so many spirit creatures and stories. When I saw that this had kitsune and other yokai, I had to jump in. This story mentions a lot of different creatures and I liked learning about them and what their purposes are. Kira is also an interesting character, she starts out meek and submissive but grows into a strong woman who stands up for herself.

My favorite part of the story were the characters. Kira, Shiro, and the rest of her group that teamed up to fight the evil coming were an interesting dynamic. The yokai taught Kira to fight back against monsters and the bullies in her life. Shiro was cute and I liked his romance with Kira, even though I'm not sure how it will work out long term since he's not human.

The story was okay but I thought it lacked detail and some parts seemed rushed. The ending in particular could have been more drawn out and a bit more exciting. I also didn't like Kira's family and I don't think they redeemed themselves which I would have liked to see.
Profile Image for Gabriela.
431 reviews237 followers
December 30, 2020
⇢ 2.5 🌟

This book had potential, too bad it was wasted...
I didn't DARE think I'll give it less than 4 stars, but here we are.

• I liked the main character, at first. It was the basic shy girl we meet in every anime.

• The plot, the story, is all happening in a month. And let me tell you what I found disturbing about this :
The main character, a priestess, with no combat knowledge, just a taste for revenge, is supposed to become a swordmaster in this short amount of time. The "shocking" thing? She does.
At the same time, they're supposed to look for seven shinigami to help them.

• Moving on ... the romance in this book? I don't want to talk about it, but I NEED TO.
It was so strange, and random. I don't even know when or how it happened, I think the authors forgot to tell me ...
Also, there were ... what? Around 5 failed kissing attempts, because every time they were intrerupted, by someone, or something. EVERY. F*ING. TIME.

• Character relationships poorly developed.
I couldn't connect with any of them, there were too many missing details, very few actual information.
And the villain? Wasn't quite the strong and feared villain. 3 pages of dialog between him and the MC and he was defetead in ... 5 lines, by our MC.
Excuse me?!
All the while reading this book I felt like watching an anime, but with missing details.
There were gaps in the story, a lot of repetitive events (as example the kiss attempt, but there were others too), same routine: waking up, going to school, looking for shinigami ...
Profile Image for Alexandra.
1,839 reviews10 followers
January 31, 2020
I received an e-ARC from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. Review can be found on *Milky Way of Books*

If you enjoy action anime with romance, mythology and an interesting plot then this book is for you! Kira's life becomes a battle as she must stop evil yokai from turning the world into complete darkness. And not only that, she has to gather a team of shinigami who may not like each other or trust each other that much, in order to save the world.

Personally I loved Shiro. He reminded me every kitsune-anime man I've seen in all my years as a fan and I could help but picture him as an anime character too. There's also the classic bullying in the Japanese school that still makes me wonder WHY NO ONE DOES ANYTHING?

Overall this was enjoyable had twists and fighting scenes and I beg Netflix to adapt this!
Profile Image for Nicole (FearYourEx).
381 reviews63 followers
January 29, 2020
3/5 stars

I enjoyed it and loved reading a book that felt like I was reading a manga or anime. However, I just never connected with Kira. Whenever anything emotional happened I just didn't really care. Her grandfather died and i just kept reading with no emotion. She fell very flat to me. I loved the supporting characters - O-Bei, Oni, Ronin, Shimada, and etc. Shiro was another character that fell flat. There was supposed to be romance but just out of the blue with no rhyme or reason they start blushing at each other and all of a sudden they love each other. When the heck did that happen?
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Amanda.
477 reviews6 followers
November 20, 2020
Before the night of the blood moon, Kira Fujikawa must recruit seven shinigami (death gods) and assemble all the pieces of a legendary sword in order to defeat Shuten-doji, one of Japan's strongest demon overlords.

I struggled to get through this book and took many incremental breaks between chapters. I had ten pages left and put the book down because I couldn't take it anymore. The characters don't have any personality, their motivations (other than Kira) are all over the place, and most importantly, they don't have any use!

It was heavily stressed that Kira needed seven shinigami to defeat Shuten-doji and yet the shinigami didn't do anything on the night of the blood moon. It was all very anti-climatic, but I shouldn't have been surprised since this wasn't the first time an over-hyped villain was easily defeated.

Kira's grandfather was killed - and more on that later! - by a demon named Ibaraki. You would imagine that a battle between Kira and Ibaraki would be very tense and emotional and yet she instantly killed him by setting him on fire with her spiritual powers. No build up. No confrontation. No dialogue. She hears that Ibaraki is present and immediately launches her attack and kills him. That's it. Done.

Personally, the wildest hanging plot thread to me was Kira's grandfather's death. He wasn't just murdered, he was torn to shreds by a demon. I vividly remember the book describing how his blood turned the floorboards black and the smell of his carnage was overpowering. This is an incredibly graphic death and I was curious to see how Kira and her family would explain such an attack to the police, who did show up as Kira was escaping. While Kira is in Tokyo, looking for answers regarding the demon attack, she receives frantic phone calls from her mother because the police wanted to discuss what happened.

Kira assured her mother that she'd talk to the police once she returns. However, Kira never has to file a police report. It's never mentioned if her younger sister - who was present during the attack - was interrogated. It was never mentioned how this brutal murder became and open-and-shut case. This is pretty weird considering Kira lives on the shrine for the remainder of the book so who cleaned up the mess? Who buried her grandfather?

This book just raised so many questions.

And that pretty much sums up this book. It was full of half-baked ideas that were forgotten about. I actually wondered if Seven Deadly Shadows was an early draft that got published.

For example, Kira apparently has a very close relationship to her younger sister, Ami. However, Ami never appears in the story again after her initial introduction. Ami's disappearance is especially weird because, at the beginning of the book, Kira rescued Ami from a traumatizing attack by a horde of demons on their family shrine. Kira leaves almost immediately for Tokyo and doesn't even mention her departure to her younger sister. Not even after Kira decides to live on the shrine rather than with her family at their home. Ami is never mentioned again. Not even in a lazy, passive way where Kira mentions making phone calls to Ami because she misses her. What was the point of Ami's character then?

And that can be said about a lot of the characters here. In addition to her younger sister, Kira also has an older brother named Ichigo. He's the stereotypical older brother who doesn't care about anything but school and his grades. Kira mentions feeling inadequate in comparison to him because her parents favour Ichigo over her and this never comes into play for the remainder of the story. Speaking of her parents...

Kira's parents deeply oppose her aspirations of becoming a priestess and inheriting the family shrine. Her mother can also see spirits and demons, but has turned her back on their family legacy for unspecified reasons. Something about not wanting her daughter to living such a dangerous life, but it was so vague and tacked on that it didn't give much closure. This could have been such an interesting point of conflict but, once again, it never develops from there.

The bullies who are supposedly possessed by evil spirits and pick on Kira? This subplot was never resolved. They get into a small scuffle in the middle of the book and this poses the possibility of Kira getting kicked out of school, which is something very important to Kira and her parents. But then the bullies' parents apologize for their daughters' behaviour and that conflict fizzled out as quickly as it arrived. I don't understand why the authors stressed how important school is to Kira and her parents when she stops showing up the closer the blood moon approaches.

Why is it so important that Kira attend this prestigious school where she's picked on because she's poor BUT her father's company makes good money? And if Kira knew her bullies were possessed by malevolent spirits, why didn't Kira do any exorcisms to stop the bullying? It just doesn't make sense.

Did I mention that through all of this drama, Kira has a love interest? He's a kitsune named Shiro. Shiro is a shrine guardian who hasn't developed any of his tails. The reason behind his lack of tails was never mentioned or hinted at and he NEVER developed a single tail by the end of the book. You'd think saving the world from a demon overlord was good enough for him to grow one, but NOPE!

And of course a YA Japanese fantasy book HAS to have a kitsune love interest. As can be expected, the relationship is forced and shallow and, overall, it's not very interesting. Might I add that this is the second YA Japanese fantasy series I've read where the love interest is a male kitsune named Shiro? What were the chances? But the Red Winter series by Annette Marie - though it did have its problems - is leagues better than this. At least Annette Marie gave her Shiro white hair, which "shiro" means in Japanese. Alameda and Maetani's Shiro has red hair for whatever reason.

Shiro also has an older brother named Ronin who betrayed the Fujikawa shrine - by allowing Shuten-doji's demons onto the premises - and giving up his kitsune powers to become a shinigami - like his mother. Readers are introduced to Ronin's character during his betrayal so you don't feel anything regarding his actions. And considering his betrayal led to Kira's grandfather's death, you'd think Ronin would be a villain. Instead, Kira and Shiro forgive Ronin very easily and Ronin's actions are never questioned again. It was just... odd.

Overall, this book was a mess with too many characters and action sequences without anything to stitch them together to make a coherent narrative. I guess that explains why my review is also all over the place.
Profile Image for Kaya.
364 reviews64 followers
January 12, 2020
confession: i haven’t read a lot of manga or anime.

Yes yes yes, it’s a problem that must be remedied as soon as possible. However, even with my limited exposure to the world of Japanese entertainment, I still picked up on a ton of anime-ish vibes! There was something in the way action scenes were described, and the wit of the banter, that was very clearly inspired by certain source material.

This was clearly so well-researched and I appreciated that! I’m no expert on Japanese culture* and so I was so, so happy to be immersed totally into a book where even basic actions like walking into a house are different from America. Valynne E. Maetani is Japanese-American, and there’s an author note at the beginning explaining just how thoroughly this book was researched. Everything from the honorifics used to, well, the Kpop girl group Twice being mentioned really hammered in the fact this was Japan, not America. Too often, books that are supposed to take place in other countries just feel like America but this wasn’t the case here.

*expert is an exaggeration. it’s more like a “has eaten ramen and watched death note” level.

Atmosphere! The atmosphere was more subtle, but there was a feeling of cold horror pervading the scenes when demons arrived. It was in the creaky walls and bustling cities and otherworldly places. I could picture everywhere the characters went, and everything they did with ease. The action scenes were amazing and had a sense of exaggerated drama that anime often has.

“I suppose even death looks beautiful, sometimes. But its beauty is a lie."

Mythology! The entire book is steeped in mythology. It was so cool seeing casual references to creatures such as yokai and shinigami, and seeing it play such a rich part in the story. There was also a glossary in the back which really helped me and my short memory.

Kira is amazing. Her growth and character development were done spectacularly. Her passion and love for her grandfather, the shrine and their family legacy were so admirable. I also adored the shinigami* and their hilarious array of personalities!

*and kiku. i was strangely fond of kiku the troll.

Sometimes I felt that the plot was too predictable and easy? I was surprised at a little bit of it, but not as much as I had hoped for. I was too enamored by the newness of the Japanese folklore to care a ton, but others might take issue with that.

And the romance! Was! Too! Predictable! It was so dang easy. I’m fond of enemies-to-lovers or friends-to-lovers that goes slow, with proper amounts of angst. That wasn’t this book had. I understand that the romance wasn’t meant to be all dark, but it did take away my reading pleasure a little bit.

So that’s it! I’d recommend this for anime fans who are looking for a good story with drama, or people who are really interested in reading a book very much centering around Japanese culture and mythology. Tell me: have you heard of this? Is it on your TBR?

Quotes are taken from an uncorrected proof and may not appear in the final product.

A huge thank-you to HarperTeen for providing me with an e-ARC through Edelweiss! Quotes are taken from an uncorrected proof and may not appear in the final product.

Profile Image for Celia.
Author 6 books479 followers
October 16, 2019
How many of you want a demon-filled, Seven Samurai/anime/manga/Miyazaki inspired fantasy? If less than all of you don't raise your hands, I'm coming over there and slapping some sense into you. You don't know what you want, so let me tell you.

SEVEN DEADLY SHADOWS is about our girl Kira, who is one of those strong and confident heroines, as she battles demons who attack her shrine in modern-day Japan looking for an ancient artifact. Alongside, Shiro, who s half fox and half boy mind you, they discover that the only way to beat the demon-lord and find the missing pieces of an ancient sword, they must enlist the help of seven shinigami (death gods) to aid the impending war.

This book read like I was watching an anime. The demons and ghosts that only Kira can see, as well as the fantastically grotesque monsters, were something out of a Miyazaki flick. There were absolutely no dull points I can think of. Every page was magical. If you have been following my reviews, when a book reminds me of Miyazaki, you can expect five stars. I'm just that easy to please.

The romance took a backseat, which was nice. Kira had a head on her shoulders and was not easily thrown aside against those who thought her weak. She relied heavily on those she loved and used their power to strengthen her. I love heroines who are goal-oriented, who have heart and emotions, and who are not afraid to take chances, and that is Kira rolled up in one neat package. We need more like her. Please.

I feel the one thing this book was lacking was food. When I think Miyazaki not only do I think of magic but of the delicious food the animation studio loves to makes us drool over. This was just my WANT, and it did not affect the rating. Clearly.

If you want a book rooted in Japanese culture and mythology and filled with an homage to Seven Samurai, this is your book.

Profile Image for Ashley (gotbookcitement).
707 reviews82 followers
April 13, 2021
Full Review to Come


This story was really interesting and sort of different from other YA books. I really loved the idea of it, all the pieces that it was made of. It reminded me a lot of a manga or anime. I think those mediums would have worked really well for it. There were a lot of visual elements that would have been cool to actually see.
I enjoyed this story, but there was something about it that didn't grip me all the way. The idea for this was so big and grand, but it was almost too big for a standalone story. There is supposed to be this quest aspect in the story where Kira and Shiro are trying to recruit Shinigami to their cause, but that gets glossed over in actuality. We see them doing it just for a little bit, and then it's just background mentioned after that. I wish we had gotten to see more of that quest. The romance build-up was very subpar. I wanted more from that. I definitely was a fan of the couple, but I wanted to see more of their relationship journey. There were just a lot of things in this book that felt very rushed, I'm sure because of it all having to be crammed into one story.
The ending battle wasn't as epic as I thought it was going to be. Well, I mean it was and it wasn't I guess. They really built up to that battle and it seemed like it was over as soon as it began.
I really did appreciate all the research that went into this story. I liked seeing and learning about all the monsters and demons. I liked getting a little intro into different spirits and beings. I could see that the authors really tried to do their best by portraying everything as accurately as they could.
I liked all the Shinigami and Oni-chan. It's a cool story.
Profile Image for Sheila G.
506 reviews97 followers
March 4, 2020
I'm so excited to be a part of the SEVEN DEADLY SHADOWS blog tour with The Fantastic Flying Book Club, from January 28th - February 3rd, 2020!

I received an ARC of this book from HarperTeen via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. Thank you! In no way does this affect my rating or review.


All included quotes have been taken from an ARC and may not match the finished publication.

Seven Deadly Shadows is absolutely brimming with Japanese lore. Being mostly unfamiliar with everything represented in this story, I believe I learned a great deal about some prominent figures in Japanese lore and mythology, which was fantastic. I think this book would make a fantastic graphic novel, as the variety of creatures would probably be better envisioned with illustrations.

Like her grandfather, Kira can see monsters. All around her, they abide. Born into a family connected to the Shinto shrine—a shrine of the dead—Kira has been training to become a priestess. Her parents had long ago abandoned her, so learning in the shadow of her grandfather has been a privilege.
Someday, Grandfather will teach me the ancient art of onmyodo, which will give me power over yokai demons and onryo ghosts who threaten our way of life. For a girl who has spent her days in the unwanted company of nightmares and monsters, my greatest wish is to be able to banish them at will.

For her entire life, Kira has been able to see the yokai that live among them, disguised as humans. Yokai are supernatural beings that are monsters, spirits, and demons. Until now, these creatures have been relatively harmless. Then, one night, her family's shrine is attacked. Her grandfather is killed and Kira must find out why this has happened.

With the help of the shrine's protector, a kitsune named Shiro, Kira discovers that the dreaded Shuten-doji (a mythical oni and demon leader) was behind the attack. Apparently, her family's shrine is the resting place for Kusanagi, a powerful artifact. The feared demon lord needs it in order to bring darkness upon the entire world.
We need seven for a cabal. Only seven can slay the demon.

The demon lord's power is unparalleled. Kira finds seven shinigami to help her bring down Shuten-doji and his minions down. Shinigami are "gods of death", "death bringers" or "death spirits" They entice humans toward death in certain aspects of Japanese religion and culture. These beings, not unlike the Grim Reaper, are the only hope to fight the demon lord's forces. Fickle creatures that they are, Kira discovers that shinigami answer to no one but themselves.

With the world's fate in the balance, they must band together if they are going to defeat one who is considered to be one of the three great evils of Japan.

I really appreciated the variety of Japanese mythology and lore represented in Seven Deadly Shadows. My main problem with this book, was that because there was so much information that was introduced at such a fast pace, it was a difficult to keep it all straight. I am not familiar with this mythology, and had to do quite a lot of research to figure out who these characters were, what they were, and how they impact the story and have been represented throughout history.

The main proof of my disconnection to this story was Kira. Parts of her story were comparable, but majority of her path through this story was completely foreign. I feel like I didn't get a good sense of who she was. Parts, with her difficulty between her peers and parents were relatable. But having little connection to her, and not enough descriptions of the surroundings, this story just fell flat for me. I think this book would be a fantastic graphic novel, however.

I think this was a decent read. It is full of lore, which I love, but didn't contain enough attributes that were recognizable, and therefore familiar, in my opinion. I still enjoyed the overall composition of the story, and that it felt along the lines of original lore.

Vulgarity: Minimal.
Sexual content: Minimal.
Violence: Moderate.

My Rating: ★★★

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Profile Image for Shealea.
431 reviews1,193 followers
Shelved as 'will-not-finish'
January 25, 2021
Did not finish, won't ever finish. (Jan 21 - Jan 24, 2021)

I might be throwing in the towel too early since I'm only 4 chapters in. But I'm just uninterested and unmotivated to keep going.
Profile Image for Thee Princess.
157 reviews135 followers
October 6, 2021
Honestly this was so good. The culture in this book along with the history totally worth the read. I can see where these authors pulled their references from and I thought it was done well. Highly recommend.

There were parts that I thought were too quick but seeing as this is a standalone and only 359 pages I get it. Oh there were some creepy parts with spiders so if you wanna read this in the fall it’s perfect for that.
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